LIHUE — Gov. David Ige made it clear Monday he disagrees with with proposals to arm teachers, or have armed guards at schools.
“I feel strongly that the idea of arming people in our schools is a big mistake,” he said. “This idea from Clayton Hee and President Trump is misguided and extreme. There is much more that needs to be done at the Federal level. I’m frustrated by the failure of Congress to pass stricter gun laws to protect our children and all of our citizens. Arming teachers is not the answer.”
Ige, in a press release, said he believes that “responsible, common sense gun laws are needed to stop these tragic shootings.”
“That is why I have fought for the toughest gun laws in the nation,” he said. “Hawaii is the only state in the country to take on the NRA and require more rigorous FBI background checks for gun owners, keeping guns out of the hands of stalkers, sexual harassers and the seriously mentally ill. These measures are actively saving lives.”
In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Florida that claimed 17 lives, Ige said plans are underway with the Department of Education and local law enforcement authorities to survey school safety.
“And I, for one, intend to walk out with the students for 17 minutes to demonstrate the need for stronger gun laws in our country,” he said.
Clayton Hee, governor candidate, proposed the State of Hawaii DOE provide an avenue for their schools to decide whether or not armed security personnel should be present to respond and prevent gun violence.
He noted there have been 11 firearm related events that occurred at a school or campus in the first 23 days of 2018, according to National Public Radio.
“In 2000 the Hawaii School Safety Managers Program was established to promote safety by placing retired law enforcement officers in certain DOE schools,” Hee said in a press release. “Although the officers were unarmed at that time, a new federal law, called Law Enforcement Safety Act, passed by Congress in 2004, now allows them to be armed.”
In 2000 one former retired law enforcement officer was placed each at 25 campuses designated by the DOE. Each former law enforcement officer developed a security and safety program and plan for each school campus, Hee said. In addition to providing security, they acted as counselors and mentors.
“It’s a sad commentary that providing armed personnel at schools today is the new normal. But given the proliferation of gun violence across the country, reasonable people would conclude that it will be only a matter of time before unconscionable acts of violence will someday result in the murder of innocent students here in Hawaii,” Hee said. “It’s better to be prepared now rather than wish we had been.”
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who is running for the governor’s office, recently joined several bipartisan efforts to expand background checks on all gun sales, ban assault weapons and bring about consideration and action on common sense legislation to help prevent gun violence.
She said that in America, an average of 33,000 people are killed every year by firearms.
“Our rate of gun deaths is higher than most other countries in the world. That is an unacceptable standard that ignores one of the core responsibilities of government; providing public safety,” she said. “We must enact reasonable gun control legislation that improves public safety and respects the rights of law abiding gun owners.”